Saturday, January 29, 2011

How to Organize Your Spices


Another January project I worked on in my kitchen was organizing my spices. After so many searches in the cupboard to find the right one, I found a much better solution. Keeping the spices in similar sized containers and arranging them so they be easily seen. Here is how I organized my spices:

Uniform Container Size - Decide what size container to put all of your spices into for everyday use. That doesn't mean you can't buy larger containers. Just store them elsewhere. I bought 4 1/4" high by 1 3/4" wide plastic spice containers from WinCo for .84 each. They have a shaker hole lid, but you have to take the lid off to put a measuring teaspoon inside. Or look for glass containers on or at IKEA.

Which Spices, Which Containers - Decide which spices you want to put in your containers and total them. You could reuse a few spice containers that are about the same size. BBQ seasonings, onions, and gravy can stay in their original large containers if you go through them a lot, and whole cloves can stay in their teeny tiny container because they are rarely used.

Transfer Spices - Make a handy-dandy spice funnel out of paper rolled into a cone shape and taped into place. Make sure the opening is not too small and at least 3/4 of an inch. Prepare for sneezing and spills. I still smell like cumin. Put the funnel into the new container and carefully pour from another container. You can do this over the sink. Be careful not to pour too quickly. When done, wipe off or tap off excess spice. Clean the funnel by tapping or shaking into the sink. I used the same funnel for all spices and it held up.

If you have leftover spices in larger containers, put them in a box, write the spice names on the box, and put the box away in the basement or under a bed. You don't need them in your kitchen taking up space other foods need.

They are great for a year or two food storage supply. If you need to refill spice jars and don't want to buy a large container at Sam's Club or Costco, try to purchase at a bulk food store like WinCo. 

Label Containers - With a permanent marker or label maker (one of my favorite gadgets) put the names of all spices on the back side of the lid cap. That way it won't be rubbed too much with your fingers. Press labels on firmly. You may need a little Scotch tape too. 

Homemade Stair-step Spice Organizer - Make a spice step for your spices after you transfer them into containers. I built my own step from a 2 x 4 piece of wood we had on hand, but I'm sure you could use another size board as well. Here's how:
  1. Divide your spices by three so you know how many to fit on each board. Cut 3 boards into a length that will hold your spices, but allow for a few extra. I had 27 spices, so I had my son cut the wood 18 inches long or enough for 10 spice containers. Actually you will only put spices on two boards and use the area in front of one board for more spices.
  2. Lay one board down flat in the back of the shelf, and put another one in front of that also laying flat. Put the third one on top of the back board. You could use sticky back velcro to hold them into place, but you really don't need too. 
  3. Arrange your spices alphabetically. That's it! You can see everything and love it, just like I do. Look at the first picture and see how much space is in my cupboard!
Note: Spices in clear containers do best in a dark cupboard away from light and a heat source.


  1. Great ideas. I use turntables: a double for smaller jars and a single for the large jars. They fit front to back in my deep pantry. Leaves room on the side for oil, brown sugar (used rarely) and a couple of other things.

    Also, if storing extras/partially full containers on a high shelf be aware that the temp may be much higher - heat rises - than on a below the counter space, as long as it is dry.

  2. This is the PERFECT idea!! I'm so glad I saw this post.. now I am anxious to get started organizing my spices, too!!

  3. Loved this - it worked really well, even for tiny side cupboards! Thank you!

  4. Love this idea!! I cannot wait to try it out. I have spices on turntables, but have so many it was just not working for me! This looks perfect. Thanks for sharing.
    Now, off to find some 2x4s!

  5. Oh, I forgot to mention that you can keep your extra spices in the freezer to keep longer! My aunt keeps ALL her spices in her upright freezer on those little 'juice' shelves in the door. I only put my 'bulk' spices in the freezer, then fill my smaller bottles on the shelf as needed.

  6. Great idea to put them in the freezer!

  7. Got them done!! Yay!!

  8. I put the pic on my blog (and referenced your page so you'd get all the credit!!)

  9. Hello. I love your website! I don't have a lot of counter or cabinet space, so I bought some small magnetic containers from Bed, Bath and Beyond (using the bundle of 20% coupons they always send me) and I stick them on the side of my refrigerator. I have a galley kitchen, so the side of my fridge faces my stove, and they're steps away from my prep counter.

  10. I love this idea. I have spice racks my dad made me years ago they look pretty on the wall but I only keep spices I use regularly in it. I too keep most of my spices in the dark cabinet, but mine are a jumbled mess and anytime I want to use them it's a 5 minute chore just to find the spices I need or to find that I don't have the spices I need. I will get started on my 2x4 spice shelves this afternoon.


Thanks for your comments and suggestions!